AREA NEWSThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Taxi Drivers Warn Peekskill Insurance Hikes Could Claim Jobs

We are part of The Trust Project
Taxi companies warn Peekskill officials against increasing insurance requirements.

By Rick Pezzullo

Several passionate taxi drivers and company owners told the Peekskill Common Council proposed increased insurance costs in the city could force many of them out of business.

“You’re trying to deal a giant hurt for a miniscule problem. There’s something terribly wrong about that,” said Anthony Bazzo, part owner of Atom Taxi. “This is not necessary. Having the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

Peekskill officials are proposing to require taxi companies to increase its liability insurance from $25,000 to $100,000 per incident and $50,000 to $300,000 for total coverage. Corporation Counsel Bernis Nelson said New York City has been mandating the higher rates for almost 20 years.

“This is a policy decision in order to lessen the risk for passengers and pedestrians in the area,” Nelson said.

However, Bazzo said it was unfair to compare Peekskill to New York City since Peekskill cab companies are privately owned, not fleets.

“It’s not an equal comparison,” he said. “To compare us with New York City can drivers is insulting. You’re doing this arbitrarily on hypotheticals, not realities. This does nothing but add a burden and makes no one safer.”

Other taxi drivers echoed Bazzo’s sentiments, saying increased fees for licenses, inspections and workman’s compensation had already been difficult for companies to absorb. It’s estimated higher liability coverage could cost companies an additional $2,000 to $8,000 annually.

“Who are we supposed to pass these costs to, the people that drive taxis? How are we supposed to survive?” said taxi owner Roy Darcheville.

“I feel this is very unfair as a small business owner, not just as a taxi driver,” said Kevin Toohey. “Small business in this community is just as important as the citizen.”

Taxi driver Ramon Fernandez said it appears Peekskill is trying to rid the city of taxi cabs.

“Everyone is scared because we don’t know if we’ll keep working,” he said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do. Many people when they lose their jobs they drive a taxi.”

Mayor Mary Foster said Peekskill has been discussing the possible changes with taxi companies for the last year and researching what other jurisdictions charge.

“We have no desire to put small businesses out of business,” she said.

The common council will be reviewing the policy at its next work session and another public hearing will be held before any decision is made.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.